The Sunday Mail
ONE of the challenges we have had, growing up, is the general expectation that “a man must be the one earning or that a man must earn more than the wife”.
In reality, things have changed as some women are now earning more than men yet we are not prepared to face that reality. What may happen is that a man might marry a woman who earns less than him, or who might not be earning at all, but some years into their marriage tables turn, with the wife, who was unemployed or who was earning less, earning more than the husband.
When my cousin got married he was earning US$2 000 and his wife, a teacher, earning around US$150 at a private college. After four years into their marriage she got a job in her speciality area and her salary moved from $150 to $1 500. After a year, her salary was increased to $3 800.
The husband was now earning almost half the salary of his wife.
My cousin never prepared for a life like this. He wanted a situation where he was the provider for everything, where he earned more than his wife. This is why he married a woman who was earning much less than him. My cousin was so jealous he could not adjust to the new settings. Instead of him complementing his wife, he started competing with her.
As fate would have it, his wife became sought-after in her field. Another company head-hunted her and salaried her $12 000. Now she was earning six times her husband.
Truth is, when we marry we don’t know what the future will bring. We assume things will be exactly as they were the day we got married. Many men are not prepared for this eventuality.
How was my cousin going to compete? His job was never going to give him $12 000. He never had business skills that could make him start a company to earn that kind of money. Yet his pride never allowed him to accept reality. He became abusive and started drinking alcohol. He lost all his affection and love for his wife.
In short, he became the opposition in their own marriage.
He started turning small issues into big conflicts. But that is not the end of the story. The wife was eventually made CEO of her company and her salary moved from $12 000 to $20 000. He went into depression that led to the collapse of their marriage.
On the flip side, the wife never changed how she loved her husband. When he left she never remarried, even telling him to come back when he felt like. She still visits his parents and attends family functions.
People don’t understand that money has no gender. A woman can make more money than her husband and men should adjust and learn to live in such a set-up. The problem is more to do with men’s ego.
In the case of my cousin, his wife would bring her salary home and make suggestions on how to improve on their home. Instead of embracing her ideas, he misinterpreted it as an attack on his inadequacies. He knew he couldn’t afford the ideas but accepting never settled well with him.
When she surprised him with a new car, he did not take it with excitement, being worried about what people were going to say. Worried about, “he is being taken care of by his wife, a useless man whose wife does everything,” etc.
When he realised that he could not compete, he left and married a woman who wasn’t working at all.
How many men are prepared to marry women that earn more than them? How many men can handle a marriage where tables turn and the wife starts making more?
We have to revisit our beliefs and our culture. The social expectation that a man must have more money than his wife is no longer tenable for money has no gender. It is about who has a better opportunity and working where. God can choose to bless the wife and ignore the husband.
On the other hand, women must understand that even though they might earn much more, every husband deserves his respect and honour. Money should not change how a wife addresses her husband.
A wise woman will still give her husband his fatherly roles even though she has more money. A woman who takes over fatherly roles will bring trouble to her own house. Earning more money doesn’t mean a wife should make her own decisions without consulting her husband.
We probably have come across women who mock their husbands or undress them in public just because they earn more than them.
Some women who begin to make more money than their husbands need to understand humility and have the sense that what they may say can be misinterpreted.
This could be the reason why so many well-off women might be struggling to get married. So many men do not know how to handle them as well as the fact that these women don’t know how to submit to a man who earns less than them.
Brian Matsaira is a love and relationships coach and can be contacted on [email protected]